Shellfish harvesting

Why commercial shellfish gathering and selling is strictly controlled

The commercial production and sale of live bivalve molluscs, e.g. clams, cockles, mussels, oysters, scallops etc. are strictly controlled as they have the potential to cause serious illness due to the way in which they feed. 

Location of classified shellfish beds 

Plymouth City Council carries out sampling of harvesting areas within the Plymouth Port Boundary.

The results are used by the Food Standards Agency to classify these areas according to the E.coli levels in the shellfish sampled.

The classification determines the areas where shellfish can be collected from and how the shellfish have to be treated, after harvesting, to ensure they are safe to eat.

The location of classified beds can be found on the Food Standards Agency website.

Applications to classify a new harvesting area

Please contact us to discuss any query by email at

Further information about the process can be found on the CEFAS website.

Live shellfish registration documents explained 

What are live shellfish registration documents? 

Live Shellfish Registration documents are used to record the origin of Live Bivalve Molluscs (LBM) or gastropods. They ensure that traceability is maintained from harvesting to final sale. This allows for recall of product if a food safety incident occurs, e.g. algal toxins discovered in harvesting waters, food poisoning outbreak, etc. 

What shellfish need to be recorded?  

Each batch or consignment of LBM including scallops, mussels, oysters, clams, cockles; being removed from a designated shellfish production area, are to be accompanied by a registration document. 

Each batch or consignment of wild scallops and non-filter feeding gastropods such as sea urchins, whelks and periwinkles, from unclassified areas, are to be accompanied by a registration document. (There is no need to harvest scallops and gastropods from classified areas but registration documents are still required.) 

How do I request registration documents?

Registration documents are available free of charge on request.

Blank uniquely numbered registration documents can be obtained free of charge by emailing requesting "Blank numbered registration documents" in the Subject line.

Please note we need a minimum of five working days to process this request.

If you are not gathering from a production or harvesting area within the Plymouth Port area you should contact the local authority who cover the production or harvesting area and they will issue you with documents.

How to use registration documents

A new document must be used for each batch. The completed registration document must accompany each batch at all times during transport from the production area to the place of destination, e.g. purification centre, dispatch centre, relaying area, processing plant. All relevant sections must be completed legibly and indelibly.

Documents must be completed by the person responsible for the removal of the shellfish from the bed. One copy must be sent with the batch of live shellfish, and the other retained for 12 months by you.

Inspection of registration documents

Registration documents must be made available for inspection when requested. Officers will make random visits in order to check documents.

Information and advice

Please email Alternatively, you can call 01752 398501 and ask to speak to an officer about Port Health.

Our office hours are 8am to 5pm Monday to Friday.